As Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only) counts down its final hours of the the $0.99 price, it seemed like a good time to talk about characters. Specifically one character. Because today is I and her name starts with an I and–
Anyway, when it comes to writing, characters simply come to me. Sometimes I get a line; sometimes it’s a name; sometimes it’s a situation. I rarely know anything about my characters when I first meet them, so readers and I are in the same boat.
Aunty Ida sprung, wholesale, from the title of the book, which I had long, long before there was a book. I didn’t know what to make of her the first time Margaret meets her; she simply appeared, this odd, brilliant scientist, sweeping the upright Judge Margaret Hamerton-Simpary into her brightly-colored and very off-kilter world.
Though Margaret drove the story — how I fought that character for control every inch of the way! And in the end, she was right — Aunty Ida shaped it, every watchful.
Sometimes, as much as this will make me sound like I’m in need of Ida’s services myself, it feels as though I’m tapping into people who exist somewhere else in the universe. And I think, when it comes to writing, that’s the key.
If your characters feel real, feel weighty, feel like they could exist somewhere to you, your readers will believe in them too.